Settling in El Monte in 1855, Jacob M. Callan became one of the first village blacksmiths. He operated his shop on the lot later occupied by succeeding blacksmiths, J.W. Broaded, and in more recent years, H.A. Burdick, father of the present (1936) Chief of Police, Lester C. Burdick.
Jacob M. Callan was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in the year 1832. His parents were of Irish and German descent. He attended the local public schools of his home and later learned the blacksmith trade. About 1850 he embarked on a sailing vessel for California making the long voyage around Cape Horn and arriving in San Francisco several months later. For a time he worked in the mines of Northern California, later coming south as a cattle drover and settling for a time in the Old Mission district, now Montebello, where he started a blacksmith shop.
In 1855 he moved his shop to El Monte where for many years he followed his trade and acquired several acres of land. This land was mostly located on the west side of town and north of Main Street. Much of his land here was washed away in the floods, which came later forming the Rio Hondo. He acquired several town site lots however, and also purchased forty acres of land in Rosemead from L.J. Rose.
Mr. Callan was a man of considerable influence and as the village blacksmith, was a friend of everyone. During the Civil War which caused so much strife and bitter feelings between the Northern and Southern Sympathizers, Mr. Callan’s quiet and kindly manner settled many personal differences, and helped materially to allay the bitter partisanship, which existed in those stormy days.
In 1861, he was married to Miss Ruth Jane Glenn, a native of Jackson County, Missouri, who with her uncle, Silas Glenn, came to California by ox-team from Texas, and settled in El Monte in about the year 1860. her parents were James B. and Elizabeth Glenn, both of whom died in Lamar County, Texas. Mrs. Glenn’s trip to California with her uncle was an eventful one, but common to many in the early settlement of California. One attack by Indians occurred, but luckily no one was killed; and the party was held up at Apache Pass, in Arizona, by “Cochise”, the Apache Chieftain, who took four head of steers as tribute for the party not being molested.
To Mr. and Mrs. Callan were born four children, only one of whom survives, a son Jacob M. of Fullerton. Mrs. Callan, following the death of her husband, was married to M.F. Quinn, of El Monte in 1868, a sketch of whom is to be found elsewhere in this volume.
Mr. Callan was a Democrat, though liberal in his views, preferring to vote for the candidate rather than to follow the political precedence. He, at one time, supported Frank Burns, a Republican, for sheriff, in a spirited election, defeating Thomas Sanches. Fraternally, he was a member of Lexington Lodge, No. 104, F. & A.M. He continued active in the operation of his blacksmith shop until his premature death in 1867.
© 2001 by Ray Ensing